Local bill to block municipal ‘grabs’ stymied in legislature

A local bill to prohibit municipalities located outside Blount County from imposing taxes or other regulations inside Blount County has been temporarily stymied in the Legislature, according to state Rep. Elwyn Thomas of Oneonta.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Scott Beason, representing Blount County. It’s introduction resulted from Warrior’s passage of an ordinance in December to collect sales taxes within its police jurisdiction, which extends into Blount County. The bill was introduced and referred to the Senate committee on governmental affairs on Feb. 2. It was passed and referred to the House of Representatives in an amended version on Feb. 17.

Thomas told the Blount County Commission in its Monday meeting that the bill proposing a constitutional amendment to protect Blount County from incursions from outside municipalities is stalled in the Legislature due to the action of Marshall County Rep. Jeff McLaughlin, whose own local bill for a constitutional amendment on an unrelated matter pertaining only to Marshall County did not pass the House of Representatives.

As a result, Thomas said, McLaughlin has in effect instituted a type of filibuster by vowing that no other local bill will clear the House until his bill is approved. Thomas said one nay vote is sufficient to prevent the constitutional amendment from being put on the ballot as a local bill for only citizens of that affected county to approve or reject. The only alternative would be to put the bill on the ballot to be voted on statewide, a course that would be tantamount to failure, he said.

“We’re trying to negotiate an agreement on this,” Thomas told The Blount
“I’ve never seen a logjam like this last forever. I believe we will prevail before it’s over with.”

The text of the amendment as proposed for the ballot, should it escape McLaughlin’s blockade, is as follows:

“Relating to Blount County, proposing an
amendment to the Constitution of
Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any municipality

located entirely outside of Blount
County from imposing any municipal ordinance

or regulation, including, but not limited

to, any tax, zoning, planning, or sanitation

regulations, and any inspection service
in its police jurisdiction located in Blount
County and to provide that a municipality
prohibited from imposing any tax or regulation

under this amendment shall not provide

any regulatory function or police or fire
protection services in its police jurisdiction
located in Blount County, other than public
safety mutual aid.”

Citizens would vote “yes” or “no” on that proposition. If passed, no local referendum would be required in any specific instance of incursion by a municipality in the future. It would be prohibited outright, without a vote of citizens required to defeat it.